Tea Board of India fixes last days to pluck leaves for quality tea

Darjeeling and other hill states of the country have to complete the entire process by December 16.

The Tea Board of India has fixed the last days of plucking of tea leaves for gardens across the country for quality control.

The board has directed gardens of Darjeeling hills to stop plucking from December 3. The deadline for gardens in the Terai and the Dooars is December 17.

Gardens in Assam and rest of Northeast have to complete plucking by December 10 except for gardens of Cachar/Barak valley of Assam and Tripura where plucking can be carried on till December 17.

The Darjeeling hills garden deadline of December 3 is extended to Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.

Sources said that specific timelines for processing green leaves in tea factories, the last dates for declaration before the tea board and for sorting, gapping, packaging and moving packaged teas to the notified tea packaged tea storage area with invoice marking have also been laid down.

“Darjeeling and other hill states of the country have to complete the entire process by December 16. The dateline for the Dooars and Terai gardens is December 31, 2022 for CTC teas and January 5, 2023, for orthodox tea,” said a source.

Assam and Northeast gardens have to complete the process by December 24 and December 29 for CTC tea and orthodox tea, respectively.

“The gardens of Cachar and Barak valley of Assam and Tripura have been set a deadline similar to the Dooars and Terai,” said a source.

The practice of disallowing plucking after a particular date was started by the Tea Board of India from 2018.

“It is a very good practice aimed at stopping the manufacture of low-quality tea in the country and the influx of green leaves from Nepal in Darjeeling region,” said a planter from Darjeeling.

Tea is plucked in four cycles; first, second, monsoon and autumn flushes.

“When tea leaves stop growing during winters, one can’t manufacture quality tea, and hence the idea to ban plucking and manufacture during winter is welcome,” said another planter.

In 2021-22, a total of 1344 millon kilos of tea was manufactured across the country.

Bijoy Gopal Chakraborty, the president of the Confederation of Indian Small Tea Growers Associations (CISTA) welcomed the tea board’s announcement but sought stricter vigil.

“CISTA welcomes the announcement of the tea board. The board should also strictly monitor factories so that they do not produce inferior quality tea using tea waste,” he said.